Chinese Lens called IS 21cm f4.5. Anyone know anything about these?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Steve S, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. Steve S

    Steve S Member

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    I bought this lens at last years Photographica in London but have just got round to using it. It came in a Copal 3S shutter and I assume it is a Tessar design. It covers 5x7 and is very sharp stopped down at f11 and beyond. I have been able to find out very little (nothing of use) about the manufacturer, when it was made or what/who it was made for. I believe it to be of Chinese origin but that's about all I know. It seems odd that that it should be in such a large shutter. I would expect a Copal 1 at this focal length and I did in fact buy this for its mint condition shutter.
     
  2. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    A #1 can be too small for a 210/4.5, which may need an aperture as large as 47 mm. Remember, the #1 opens only to 30 mm. Perhaps your expectations were formed by 210/5.6s, many of which are in #1s.
     
  3. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Let's see a photo of the engravings on the lens and see if anyone has any idea.
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    every few years someone posts a lens
    made in china that seems
    like a schneider knock-off
    but is schneider lens made in china
    for the far east market ...
    (they usually say schneider, or made for schneider or something on them )
    maybe its one of these ?
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    It sounds like the lens that was doing the rounds of the camera fairs, if so I nearly bought it a couple of times, was it like new in it's original box ?

    Probably imported by someone like MrCad originally I seem to remember some adverts, the lens I looked at looked great, even if not the same lens. Have fun.

    Ian
     
  6. Steve S

    Steve S Member

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    You could well be right about this lens doing the rounds of the camera fairs Ian. It came in a light brown box with a metal catch and a red plush interior.It was in extremely nice condition and looked unused. See Pics. I have shown the lens with close ups of the sticker and inscriptions on front and back caps.
    It shows 4 strong reflections in the front cell set and 3 reflections in the rear set, 2 of which are strong and 1 of which is weak. Would you expect this to be the characteristic reflections from a Tessar copy Dan? I associate lenses around this focal length with an f4.5 aperture with Tessars.
     

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  7. AgX

    AgX Member

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    What does the text on top at that sticker say? It seems latin characters.
     
  8. Steve S

    Steve S Member

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    Indistinct but through a loupe I think it says BEIJING COS CHANG CHIPIN. The last word is almost illegible so my best guess only.
     
  9. AgX

    AgX Member

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    That "IS" makes me think of the canadian Iston brand (imported chinese field cameras and lenses).
     
  10. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    It reflects like a tessar type.

    I'm not sure its safe to assume that 210/4.5ers are all tessar types, but many are.
     
  11. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    My guess is it the lens I saw. It looks the same and I remember the stickers & the box. I think you've done well, should be an interesting lens to use.

    Ian
     
  12. CatLABS

    CatLABS Subscriber

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    Looks like a yamasaki congo tessar. Perhaps Japanese and not chinese?
     
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Actually it doesn't look like the Congo Tessar at all, the 210mm Congo is f6.3 not f4.5 and fits a Copal 1 shutter. These Chines LF lenses were sold under the Iston name in North America, and I'm 99% certain that MrCad (Croydon, UK) was importing them as well. They are listed as Chinese made in the Vade Mecum but I know I have a MrCad price list somewhere with the lenses which claims the same.

    Ian
     
  14. Steve S

    Steve S Member

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    Yes, just checked VM and:
    "Iston, China.
    Iston f4.5 Sold in UK as 210mm in Copal 111 shutter, during 1995.
    An Iston camera for 5x4 was sold with a Navitar f5.6/150mm in a Copal."


    Pursuing the ISTON camera line has produced a lead.

    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/cheapwood.html

    It would appear that ISTON was the earlier name used for Shen-hao in the west. A reasonable assumption then that these lenses were made by bodies unknown, as part of the branded offerings available for the early ISTON large format camera. I am now thinking that the most likely same country producer of the lens at that time would have been Seagull. They were already producing Tessar copies for their medium format cameras and were the largest producer in 1995.The shutters obviously would have been imported. There was also a Beijing camera factory (source: Cameras of China by Douglas St Denny) but I am not sure if this was still in existence in 1995
     
  15. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The Iston cameras are for sure different from Shenhao cameras.
     
  16. Steve S

    Steve S Member

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    On the Large format pages Tuan says in resect of Iston "They are not sturdy, in particular the 8x10, and the focusing is kind of rough. The store owner told me that everyone bought these had to rebuild them in someway. After that they are usable."
    I have no hands on experience of ISTON or Shen Hao but the latter has a pretty good reputation these days so maybe they just listened to their users and improved the build quality over the years. Or maybe both names are western approximations of some generic Chinese expression meaning large camera and they are unrelated. I wish my language skills were better :smile:
     
  17. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The Iston 8x10 is indeed a simple built camera where a lot can be modified. But it was the cheapest of all 8x10s back then. And one has to make choices.
     
  18. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The cameras may have been cheap and cheerful but the lenses despite being low cost in the West perform(ed) well from what I remember at the time they were imported into the UK.

    The only reason I didn't buy this particular ens when I saw it was first not much cash :D (most important reason), second I have an excellent 210mm Symmar S (bought off an APUG Mod) and then after that also have a 210mm f6.3 Congo and 210mm f6.3 Geronar, and also some Paragons, oh and the day I say it first I bought a mint 203mm f7.7 Ektar in a Prontor SVS shutter.

    If you saw the lens Steve's bought (with the box case etc) you'd see it oozes quality and the manufacturer wanted to have it seen that way, it looks better than a Congo, in many ways I wish I'd bought it but I really didn't need it :D

    Ian
     
  19. dehk

    dehk Member

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    It reads "Great Wall".
     
  20. Steve S

    Steve S Member

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    That pretty much nails it as a product of the Beijing camera factory. " Great Wall " was the generic name given to all their products from around the 1970s onwards. It fits in nicely with the logo on the front cap too.This is what I love so much about photographic fora; a really productive use of the internet.
    There is still so much we don't know about camera production in China. At present there seems to be a massive flow of western photographic collectables going to China if my own Ebay trading is anything to go by. Maybe that trend will reverse eventually and more Chinese collectors will start listing with availability to the West.